how to care for ducklings

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by chicken farmer2, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. im going to get ducklings from tsc on monday 25, along with chicks. i need to know how to care for these ducklings properly. is it just like a chick or what?

  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Welcome to Duckdom!

    Short answer to your question: nope [​IMG]

    I am going to try to copy a table here (from some notes I made for a talk I gave last fall) . . .






    3x niacin
    (duckling needs 3 times the niacin a chick does)

    1x niacin

    Varies by individual duck – some sustain severe neurological symptoms, seizures, death, and/or leg problems

    Requires water deep enough to wash entire head. Ducklings are waterfowl, must have it 24/7 along with food, get the water managed properly from day one if possible

    Water deep enough to drink

    Insufficient head washing often leads to eye, sinus and ear infections

    Enjoyed, not needed

    Predators can make a pond a liability sometimes
    Brooding Temperature
    General rule of thumb 90F first week, drop 5 degrees a week A little warmer, often Some variety in how people approach this
    Growth Rate
    Very rapid
    Will quickly become larger than chicks - safety risk

    Susceptibility to disease

    Somewhat less than chickens


    Ducklings need more niacin, but can be fed chick starter with supplements, once grown, maintenance or layer feed the same

    Pellets easier to eat than mash due to shape of bill

    Some disagreement about whether amprolium-laced food is okay. There used to be medicated chick starter that was toxic to ducklings.
    1 person likes this.
  3. duckins

    duckins Songster

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gladys, Va
    Pretty much. except they don't need to be as warm as chicks, can't have medicated chick starter and must have water lots and lots of water all time they will chock on food w/o water and they will play and splash water out. They really benfit from little tub swims as well. When grown they need a pool or and bucket deep enough to dunk entire head to clean eyes and nostrils this is very important so no sinus issues arrive. I have not brooded both lots of people have and hopefully someone more experienced with combining the two will be along shortly.
  4. countrygirl74

    countrygirl74 Songster

    Oct 19, 2012
    Northern Arizona
    I will just share my experience and what I know... in addition to everything Amiga said as she is much more experienced than I.

    Many people raise ducks with their chickens, I don't. I found even when they were little that the ducks would pick on the chickens too much, so I separated them. Also, with their different water and nutritional needs, I found it easier. When the ducks were babies, I kept a shallow tupperware lid for their water for the first week as I had one that kept falling asleep in it. However, they need to dunk their beaks to clear out their nasal passages, so make sure you provide that for them if the water is too shallow.
    I do not feed the ducks medicated chick starter - not good for ducks. My chicks and ducklings all got un-medicated chick starter and I didn't lose a single one.
    As for the water and niacin, I found the easiest way was to mix a gallon of water with a 100mg capsule of niacin. It must be straight niacin, not the ones that say flush-free or time release. I just open the capsule, drop the powder into the gallon jug and shake it up. It dissolves best if the water isn't really cold. Once that ran out, I would simply make another gallon. I provided niacin daily for the first 12 weeks and after that, I didn't worry about missing some days here and there. In good weather when they can get a lot of bugs, you don't need to provide it as much.
    Regarding the temperature, I found that our ducks got hot easier than the chicks, so we dropped the temperature a little more than 5 degrees per week once they started feathering out. If you have several, they will keep each other warm too. But definitely keep them warm for those first couple weeks. If you start to see them panting, then you know it's time to raise the heat lamp or get rid of it.
    I believe we took ours swimming in the kitchen sink when they were about 2 weeks old. They loved it! However, you have to supervise all their swim time until they get feathers. Their soft down gets waterlogged and they have the potential to drown. Of course, after swim time, make sure they get right back under that heat lamp so they don't get chilled.
    Have fun with your ducks! They have so much personality and I just love 'em!
  5. thank you guys. i have a few questions
    * will a gallon waterer be good enough till they got older
    * if so about how old sould they be to switch them to something if needed and what would be a good something else
    * also do u feed straight up dry feed or make it alittle wet.
    * also will it be good to have them in a 4x 4 brooder but split in half so that chicks on one side and ducklings on other

  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    You're welcome [​IMG]

    How many chicks and ducklings are we talking about?

    A gallon waterer may be just fine for several weeks. I went to a three-gallon because I had eleven ducklings (c:

    Dry crumbles worked for us, there must be fresh water available 24/7 (yes, I write that often). Some do dampen feed and you need to be willing to toss what is not eaten within several hours to avoid moldy food poisoning.

    Separate chambers in the brooder sounds good. The number of littles would affect my saying 4 x 4 is a good size or not.

    I started fifteen in a 5 ft long 2 ft wide plastic tub. That was good for maybe a week and a half, then the owner of four of the ducklings came and got hers, and I got a puppy playpen( I think it was 4 x 6 feet). That was good for another couple of weeks then I added another puppy playpen.
  7. jdywntr

    jdywntr Songster

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
  8. im going to have 6 chicks and 3 ducks . but when they are older should i switch them to like a turkey waterer so it has a wider base so they can dip their bills in
  9. [​IMG] will something like this work for an adult duck.

  10. jdywntr

    jdywntr Songster

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    They need to have something available to dunk their hole head. I never use waterers for my ducklings. They enjoy playing with the chickens though if they wander into their coop. This is similar to what I use, then I switch to buckets when they are a few weeks old and can reach.

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